Great White is one of the headlining bands in 2018’s Coral Head Music Festival set for Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-18 in Marathon. It’s the second annual rock and roll festival and the lineup is more eclectic this year, but that doesn’t mean fans won’t enjoy the offerings of the likes of Great White. It’s the opposite of “Once Bitten Twice Shy.”
When the band rolls up to the music festival in the Middle Keys, it will have just finished a Monsters of Rock cruise from Miami to Jamaica, featuring the likes of Tesla, Winger and, of course, Great White.
Mark Kendall, the founding member of the wildly popular ’80s band, said the group has worked consistently throughout the years. In fact, it just released a new album, “Full Circle,” that grew out of a previous rock cruise when he bumped into an old friend.
“Michael Wagener did our very first EP and album and we parted ways for no particular reason,” Kendall said of Wagener, the legendary producer behind such acts as Alice Cooper, Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne. “As I was walking away from him he called out, ‘Hey, why don’t we get together and do something again?’”
The result is something that sounds like the old Great White, with some nice surprises.
“Well, it’s hard to get away from yourself,” Kendall laughed, “but we got that blues and rock and ballad thing going on. But we stretched out a little bit on a couple of the songs. ‘The Cry of a Nation’ was born when I listened to ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ — it doesn’t change key for a long time, or at least when you expect it to.”
The band plays about 70 to 80 gigs a year. Many are in casino halls, others are at music festivals. Sometimes bands of the same era go together on tour as a package, but it’s a far cry from the crazy ’80s when the band would spend almost a year on tour.
Great White has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, has six Top 100 Billboard hits, nine Top 200 Billboard albums, two platinum albums, and clocked the top of MTV video four times. (Who can forget model Bobbie Brown in “Once Bitten”?)
The band’s day-to-day activities are a little different now, though. In fact, Kendall apologized for delaying the Weekly interview. (“I had to take my grandson to school today” and “I play pool at just under pro caliber.”) He said he has more time now to reflect about the music he’s made, the music he will make, and the influences that brought him to this point.
“I’ve met all, or most, of my heroes — Billy Givens, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy,” Kendall said. “The one thing that impressed me is that they are all so soulful, and so down to earth. And sweet. And they don’t understand how much their work and their songs mean. It’s like you have to explain it to them.”
Kendall said the bands Great White has toured with have been just as generous, even when they were just “up and comers.”
Great White is expected to take the stage around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the amphitheater and Marathon Community Park. For a full list of the other bands playing, and a schedule, visit coralheadmusicfest.com.
“Your dad shreds, bro.” — what the friends of Mark Kendall’s son tell him about Great White skills.